A Project of Concerned Families.org founded in 1994
Birth-Day Message from Congressman Greg Walden
Message from the Founder
If you are reading this, it means you are interested in building a relationship with your neighborhood school. That’s wonderful. I’m glad you are considering the Birth-Day Project, but whatever way you ultimately decide to fulfill your heart’s desire to help your school, you will make a difference in the lives of young people.
However, you may never fully know the good you are doing. When I was 8-years-old I was in a boarding school for troubled kids, and the local police came on campus to visit us and put on a show to make us laugh. They couldn’t have been with us for much more than an hour, but I never forgot that they cared enough to come. Much of my work with Concerned Families is a way to say thanks.
Although none of those officers ever knew what they accomplished in my life, I will always be grateful to them for that one evening they sacrificed to give us kids a bit of holiday cheer. I thank them from the bottom of my heart. And I thank you for the same reason. One way or another, you will make a difference, or you wouldn’t be reading this now. Thank you.
Birth-Day is a simple idea that has surprising impact on young people of all ages. Starting in 2012, we’ve gone into schools and celebrated everyone’s birthday on the same day, May 1st. Birth-Day gives the students a chance to be honored as unique individuals, while being encouraged to honor each other in the same way.
We’ve learned over the years that many kids don’t celebrate much on their birthdays, or get invited to parties, and of course, many don’t have their birthdays during the school year. In the nicest way, Birth-Day allows for everyone’s unique life to be celebrated by everyone else. We even celebrate the teachers, staff and administration. After all, they are unique too!
First, it is important that the Birth-Day servers not be teachers or staff at the school, or parents of any of the students. The very fact the Birth-Day adults are strangers to the students is a key part of the impact of Birth-Day.
We are telling them that the adult community cares about them and wants them to succeed in life. Even though we don’t know them, we do know their value.
Another key to Birth-Day’s impact is that the adults are parenting them by representing “community fathers” and “community mothers.” The “fathers” do the high schools and the “mothers” do the elementary schools. The middle schoolers are done by both the community mothers and community fathers working together to let them know they are appreciated.
Along with our birthday wishes, we celebrate by serving the students ice cream sundaes – with lots of toppings – during their lunch period. It’s that simple.
After several years of experience with Birth-Day we can guarantee that you will be surprised, not only at the impact this can have on the children, but also the impact it will have on the adults who serve. One main reason is that most adults don’t realize how much some of our youth are struggling in their personal lives – and also as students. Of course, the teachers know, and they are grateful to have help inspiring the children to gain a better sense of life’s possibilities, starting with knowing people care about them.
The first year we served at one of our high schools a senior girl told one of our board members that it was the best day of her life. He was completely shocked that an ice cream sundae served by some caring men could have so much impact. Relaying the experience brought him to tears. We have many stories of kids admitting they’ve never had a birthday party before. Each story is eye-opening for the adults who serve. We look forward to your Birth-Day stories.